In a move designed to curb puppy farming and increase the welfare standards of the puppy trade, the UK government is considering a proposal to ban the sale of puppies by pet shops and third party dealers.
With changes already due to take place later this year, enhanced regulations would require all breeders and dog sellers, including rehoming centres, to be licensed and not be allowed to sell puppies under eight weeks old.
What the proposal means for people buying puppies and dogs
Under the proposal, those on the market for a new puppy or dog would deal directly with the breeder or rehoming centre, and in person at the time of sale.
The breeder or dog seller would also be required to show the mother alongside the puppy, with the buyer present. This is in direct response to fraudulent online activity where prospective buyers are sold puppies without having seen them first.
Response to pet shop puppy sale ban
Concern was raised last year about banning puppy sales from pet shops and third party dealers, with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs concerned a black market trade would result. Others have thought similarly, although believe the proposal will go a long way to helping curb the issue of animal welfare and fraudulent activity.
Paula Boyden, veterinary director for the Dogs Trust, said, “The law is not protecting these dogs and we need to be absolutely sure that future legislation is properly resourced and enforceable.”
"If a ban was introduced now, puppy farmers could exploit loopholes such as setting themselves up as unregulated re-homing centres or sanctuaries. Licensing and inspection of dog breeders and sellers must also be stronger to ensure that everyone involved in the trade is on the radar of local authorities."
Officers at the RSPCA have seen some of the horrific conditions inside the underground puppy trade business, which the proposal will attempt to eliminate. These have included squalid conditions for the animals, where dogs and puppies are not washed and left covered in their own faeces; kept in cold, dark pens with no access to light; and, for some puppies, kept inside buckets with the bodies of other dead puppies.
RSPCA deputy chief executive Chris Wainwright said, “We have always said that an end to third party sales alone would not be enough to end the puppy trade crisis, and we are pleased that this is being looked at alongside enhanced licensing conditions for breeders,” Chris Wainwright.
Speaking on the issue of puppy farming, Mayhew Animal Home charity chief executive Caroline Yates said, "Getting a dog or cat is not a commercial business and the big puppy farms have no regard for the health or welfare of animals.
"Owners are being duped into buying animals from these places."
A consultation period for the proposal closes on 2 May.